The dog-ate-my-homework excuse paled long ago, back when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempted to gloss over the death of American Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other members of the diplomatic corps by testily asking, “What difference at this point does it make?” Now the Democratic front-runner is in far deeper trouble of her own making, and she is assigning blame for transmitting classified data over unsecured channels to everyone she can think of, from Republicans to the media.
On Friday, she moved on to her latest target, tweeting:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 21, 2015
She didn’t name the official, but she didn’t need to to incur the wrath of former intelligence and military officials, who promptly fired at the leading candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
“It’s not up to her to decide what level it’s classified at. It’s up to her to obey the law and clearly she did not,” Lt. Col. James Williamson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Williamson entered Special Forces in 1988 and retired in 2012.
“If someone doesn’t have the sense to recognize classified material, they shouldn’t be in such a sensitive position, much less the Secretary of State,” Williamson added.
Similarly, Brig. Gen. Kenneth Berquist said, “She jeopardized every piece of information that went across her private server line. This is a very good example of how her ‘inconvenience’ put us at risk in the United States.”
Berquist added that “this is hubris. This is an example where people say, ‘I don’t play by the rules.”
Clinton originally argued during a March 10 news conference that it she had one private domain name and server because it was ”inconvenient” to carry two separate cell phones. Her comments were in response to the New York Times March 3 revelation about her use of a private email account.
Berquist is a former CIA intelligence officer was hand-picked by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the first president of the Joint Special Operations University, which trains intermediate and senior commanders in Special Operations. He also served as special operations staff director for the U.S. Central Command during Operation “Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan.
Berquist was among a group of military and intelligence officials calling in an August 5 letter for John Kerry, Clinton’s successor at the State Department, to suspend her current security clearance, as the DCNF reported earlier this week.
“There needs to be an administrative action against Secretary Clinton,” Berquist told the DCNF.
“First she was blaming Republicans,” noted Scott Taylor, president of the Special Operations Education Fund, which filed the letter to Kerry.
“Now she’s blaming the intelligence community for over-classyifying? She was the nation’s top diplomat,” Taylor said. “Any conversations she had about troop movements, drone strikes, foreign policy, our allies range from sensitive to Top Secret. That is the job that she signed up for.”
Fred Rustman, who was in the elite CIA Senior Intelligence Service and spent 24 years in the intelligence agency, said “the fact is that anyone who communicates classified material or stores classified material in an unsecure location is violating the rules of security. And obviously she did this.”
Rustman added that “when you parse all of this which she has, and say there weren’t any ‘classified’ documents, none of that amount to a hill of beans. As far as the intelligence community is concerned, and they’re the guardians of secrets and she was a cabinet-level official.”
William Cowan, a retired Marine Corps colonel who was a founding member of a secret U.S. intelligence program called the Intelligence Support Activity that represents DELTA Force and Navy Seals, told the DCNF that Clinton’s statements and behavior are “outrageous. It’s absolutely outrageous behavior and total disregard, not only for the law and the policies and procedures, but also for the safety and security of our nation.”
By using an unsecured private server, she took it upon herself to automatically declassify hundreds of materials, Cowan said.
“Did she unilaterally decide to declassify all these things? If that’s the case, then it’s even worse. It puts people’s lives in jeopardy. It puts American foreign policy and national security in jeopardy,” Cowan said.
This report, by Richard Pollock, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.